Gardner, not Winn, likely to start for Yankees

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According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com “all indications” are that Brett Gardner will be the Yankees’ starting left fielder, with veteran free agent pickup Randy Winn “serving more of a fourth outfielder’s role.”
When the Yankees signed Winn in January the opposite was thought to be true, but manager Joe Girardi said yesterday that Gardner “is a guy that we think has the ability to play every day and we think he has to show it.”
Gardner has hit just .256 with a .325 on-base percentage and .352 slugging percentage through 150 games as a major leaguer after batting .280/.391/.385 in 143 games at Triple-A, so his offense will be well below par at a position where the MLB average was .270/.341/.440 in 2009.
However, he figures to be an elite defensive left fielder and also brings a ton of speed to the table, swiping 39 bases in 425 plate appearances with the Yankees and 53 bases per 600 plate appearances in the minors. Which is why Gardner was among my favorite fantasy sleepers for AL-only leagues even before apparently moving past Winn on the depth chart.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.